More than 4,000 deaths result from household
fires each year. Recognizing how fires start is the first step to protecting friends,
family, and clients.
A home's electrical system is designed to safely carry a specific load of electricity. If
that total is surpassed, fuses or circuit breakers will open and shut off the current.
Never try to increase the maximum load by replacing burnt-out fuses with those allowing
higher current levels. If a fuse is not the right size, don't use it. Never place anything
other than a fuse in a fuse holder.
If you experience frequent fuse replacements or circuit-breaker resets, first check the
main electrical box to see which section of the house is affected. Once identified reduce
the amount of electricity used in those areas by unplugging a few appliances or moving
them to another room. If this doesn't help, have a professional electrician inspect the
system to determine the cause of overload.
When an appliance will not reach a wall outlet, extension cords are a common temporary
solution. But they are not meant to be permanent fixtures. If more outlets are needed,
have them installed by a qualified professional. And never run electrical cords under
carpets or secure them with nails or staples.
Household fires can start in a number of ways. With a fire safety checklist, you will
recognize some of the more common hazards. For example, flammable liquids such as
gasoline, kerosene, and paint thinner can be extremely dangerous and should never be
stored near sources of heat, especially furnaces, water heaters, and other gas appliances.
Use plastic or metal storage containers, not breakable glass, and keep the lids tightly
sealed to prevent escaping flammable vapors.
In the event of a fire, smoke detectors can save lives. For maximum protection, place a
smoke alarm on every floor and outside each bedroom. Test each detector at least once a
month and replace the batteries annually. Whenever vacuuming or dusting, do not forget the
vents on the smoke detector where grease, dust, and dirt car build up and cause a